Monday, August 18, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 8/18/2008

Canada
Fighting Back When Called a “Racist”
 
Europe and the EU
Bildt Plays Down Russian Nuclear Threat
Crime Watch — 37,359 Cars Burned in France in 2007
 
Balkans
Kosovo: Serbia Asks International Court of Justice Opinion
Serbia: Book Withdrawn for Being Insult to Muslims
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Israel to Free 200 Prisoners as Gesture to Abbas
Jordan to Release Prisoners Who Killed Israeli Soldiers
 
Middle East
Gulf: Budget Surplus Hits New Record, Estimated Doubling
Saudi Girl Drinks Bleach to Escape Marriage
Indonesia: Wham! Bam! Islam!
Turkey: Life Sentence Request for Pippa Bacca’s Killer
New Al Qaida Cell Discovered
 
Far East
Japan, Refutation of Neoliberalism
Muslim Rebels Kill 28 in Bloody Philippines Attack
 
Australia — Pacific
Satan Loves the Olympics
 
Immigration
Italy: Illegal Immigrants Land Off Coast
 
General
A Festival of Groveling to Terrorists

Thanks to ACT for America, C. Cantoni, Fausta, Frontinus, Insubria, LN, TB, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

Details are below the fold. In order for the headline links to work, the full post must be open.
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Canada

Fighting Back When Called a “Racist”

Trapped in an Orwellian nightmare, Canadian author Howard Rotberg struggles to clear his name.

           — Hat tip: Frontinus[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Bildt Plays Down Russian Nuclear Threat

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has played down the significance of reports that Russia is considering arming its Baltic fleet with nuclear warheads.

The foreign minister said Sweden was already aware of Russia’s nuclear capacity in the region.

“According to the information to which we have access, there are already tactical nuclear weapons in the Kaliningrad area. They are located both at and in the vicininty of units belonging to the Russia fleet,” Bildt told the TT news agency.

Bildt’s comments came after a senior Russian military source told The Sunday Times that Russia was planning to equip its Kaliningrad-based naval fleet with nuclear warheads for the first time since the Cold War.

“This is no surprise even if there are not press releases being sent out about it on a daily basis. But it is worrying from our point of view in a more general sense that nuclear weapons still play a major role in the overall Russian doctrine,” said Bildt.

The Sunday Times’ source said the Kaliningrad fleet had suffered from a lack of funding since the end of the Cold War but that this would now change.

The small enclave of Kaliningrad is located between Poland and Lithuania, both of which are members of the European Union and Nato.

“In view of America’s determination to set up a missile defence shield in Europe, the military is reviewing all its plans to give Washington an adequate response,” said the Russian military source.

Russian General Anatoly Nogovitsyn told the Interfax news agency late last week that Poland was “making itself a target” for a nuclear strike by agreeing to host a US anti-missile shield within its borders.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Crime Watch — 37,359 Cars Burned in France in 2007

Here’s an update on crime from Le Salon Beige, quoting the weekly Minute:

The number of acts of urban violence committed in 2007 in France was published discreetly by the Interior Ministry. It totals 93,016, including 37, 359 cars burned, or 102 per day!

The remainder is divided up as follows: 26, 217 trash can fires, 7,955 acts of vandalism against city property (both slight damage and total destruction), 6, 856 projectiles thrown (the targets were mainly policemen), 5, 658 car chases and 4, 101 cases of collective violence against security forces and medics.

The article points out that throwing a projectile is considered an individual act, not a collective one, though from what I’ve read of crimes, gang violence usually includes projectiles.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Italian Police Arrest Muslim Cleric Linked to Casablanca Bombings

Italian police have arrested a Muslim cleric for extradition to his native Morocco to face terrorism charges linked to suicide bombings in Casablanca in 2003. Police said in a statement that Abdelmajid Zergout, imam of a mosque in Varese, was arrested on Saturday at his home in the northern city.

Zergout, aged 43 and also known as Abou Al Bara, had already been arrested in Italy in 2005, along with two other Moroccans, on suspicion of raising funds and recruiting for the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group.

The group was blamed for the 2003 Casablanca attacks in which 45 people were killed, including 12 suicide bombers. Zergout and the other two men were acquitted by a Milan court last year but faced expulsion. This was suspended at the urging of the European Court of Human Rights which argued that they would face mistreatment by authorities back in Morocco.

However, the latest arrest was in response to a fresh Moroccan extradition request dating from the end of July, on more serious charges of “participating in acts of terrorism”.

Zergout’s Italian defence lawyer, Luca Bauccio, said the new charges had been “fabricated against an innocent man who has not set foot in Morocco for 10 years”. The lawyer said he would be appealing against the extradition request…

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Serbia Withdraws Book Amid Muslim Anger

A Belgrade publisher is to withdraw from bookstores a novel that the Islamic Community in Serbia has described as offensive to Muslims.

Aleksandar Jasic, the director of the Beobuk publishing house also apologised to Muslims for distributing the book entitled The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones, which details the life of Ajsa, “one of Prophet Mohammad’s wives,” who he married when she was 11.

The decision followed a strong protest by the leader of the Islamic Community in Serbia, Muarem Zukorlic who compared the book with the Mohammed cartoons controversy of 2006.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Kosovo: Serbia Asks International Court of Justice Opinion

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, AUGUST 18 — Serbia asked yesterday the United Nations General Assembly to request an opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legitimacy of Kosovo’s unilaterally proclaimed independence. The request was formally submitted by Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic. In the document the Serbian authorities also hope that the problem would be included on the agenda of the works of the session which will start in early September. “We hope that the reply from the Assembly will be positive, as far as we are concerned, we are ready to accept the ICJ opinion, whatever it may be,” Jeremic said. “Serbia believes that the opinion of the UN’s main judicial body will be particularly important in a case like this, in which it is about assessing whether the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo complies with international law,” he said. Kosovo declared independence on February 17. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Serbia: Book Withdrawn for Being Insult to Muslims

Belgrade, 18 August (AKI) — The Islamic Community in Serbia said on Monday it was not satisfied with the withdrawal of Sherry Jones’ novel, The Jewel of Medina, from the country’s bookshops.

Referring to the book released by Belgrade publisher Beobuk three weeks ago, the organisation’s leader Muamer Zukorlic said it was “offensive to Muslims” and demanded all of the published copies be handed in.

He also called for director Aleksandar Jasic to repent for what he had done.

After an initial complaint from the Islamic community, Jasic apologised saying the company “had no intention of insulting Muslims in Serbia” and announced the book would not be available in any bookstore in the country.

But Zukorlic said on Monday that this was not enough.

“Jasic needs to sincerely repent because of the incident he caused,” Zukorlic said.

Zukorlic has already compared The Jewel of Medina with the Mohammed cartoon controversy in Denmark.

The Danish cartoons, deemed offensive to Islam, led to worldwide protests when they were first printed in September 2005.

“Obviously someone wishes to join the ranks of those who produced the cartoons in Denmark several years ago and it is an insult to all Muslims of the world, especially for us here in Serbia,” said Mufti Zukorlic.

The book was due to have a world premier in Serbia, since its US publisher decided against selling the book fearing the reaction of radical Muslims.

Jasic explained that Macedonia, Croatia, Spain and France had also bought the rights for the book.

The novel is a love story about the life of Aisha, the seventh wife of the Islam prophet Mohammed, and follows her life from her betrothal to the prophet when she was six-years-old.

According to the novel, Aisha was Mohammed’s favourite wife and he died in her arms.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Terrorism: Varese Imam Arrested to be Extradited to Morocco

(ANSAmed) — VARESE, AUGUST 18 — The police have arrested Moroccan imam of the mosque in Varese, Abdelmajid Zergout, against whom an arrest warrant for terrorist crimes issued on July 31 by the King’s prosecution office at Rabat’s Court of Appeal and aimed at his extradition to Morocco was pending, the police headquarters announced today. As it became known, Zergout, 43, was arrested by the Division of General Investigations and Special Operations (DIGOS) in his dwelling in Malnate, a small town just outside Varese. The imam, who is married and has young children, was arrested three years ago by the Special Operational Group (ROS) of the Italian Carabinieri for an accusation of international terrorism. However, last year he was acquitted by the court of Milan and was released.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Transplants: Egypt, Stop to Copts-Muslims Donations

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, AUGUST 18 — Despite the agreement on the possibility that Muslims and Copts could be mutually donors of organs, the chairman of the Egyptian doctors’ association, Muslim Hamdi el Sayed, decided to ban the donations waiting for the approval of an ad hoc law, currently under discussion in Parliament. The goal is to impede fictitious donations, actually made for money. The decision however sparked off a fierce polemic by the Copts who consider it a discriminatory measure. The news was reported by the Egyptian and Arab media after Copt lawyer Naguib Jibrael, chairman of the non-government organisation Egyptian union for human rights, threatened to take El Sayed in court. “The association of the doctors behaves as if it were an authority that has the right to issue fatwas (religious opinions), Al Azhar or the church, putting in discussion even the right to citizenship,” the lawyer says. “Why the Muslims are not angry at this decision, as some Copts are?” replied the chairman of the doctors association who is also chairman of the healthcare committee at the lower house of Parliament and author of the bill currently under discussion in Parliament. The decision to block for the moment the donations between Muslims and Copts and vice versa, El Sayed claims, came from the need to impede the illegal trade of organs, but there is no objection to the donation if it is really free. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Israel to Free 200 Prisoners as Gesture to Abbas

The Israeli cabinet on Sunday overwhelmingly approved the release of some 200 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinian government.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s spokesman Mark Regev called the move a “confidence-building measure” towards Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying “we hope the release will help strengthen the peace process.”

A senior government official told AFP that the list, which will be considered for final approval by a ministerial committee on Monday, includes two veteran prisoners implicated in deadly attacks on Israelis in the 1970s.

The two are an exception to Israel’s general long-standing refusal to release those with “blood on their hands,” but the official said the security establishment “believes the risk of the release is very low.”

Israel had first announced the move on August 6 following a face-to-face meeting between Olmert and Abbas, the latest in a series of discussions held since they re-launched peace talks at a U.S.-hosted conference in November.

Once the ministerial committee approves the decision, Israelis will have several days to appeal against the release of individual prisoners before the actual release takes place on August 25.

There are currently more than 11,000 Palestinians jailed in Israel, including at least 85 women and children, and 11 seriously ill people, according to the Palestinian Authority.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Jordan to Release Prisoners Who Killed Israeli Soldiers

Jordan’s police said they would soon release four prisoners who killed Israelis and transferred from Israeli prisons to continue their terms back home. The men will be freed on Aug. 20, after Jordan notified Israel of its decision to have them freed in accordance with Jordanian laws, said Public Security Department Spokesperson Major Mohammad Khatib.

Of the four, three infiltrated into Israel in November 1990 and killed an Israeli soldier, and the fourth killed another Israeli troop in the same year. The four had been serving life terms in Israeli prisons since 1991, three years before Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty ending six decades of enmity and war.

They were sent back home last year to serve the remaining term in Jordan’s prisons after an agreement was reached between Jordan and Israel. Jordan’s government has pledged to follow up on the files of all Jordanian prisoners in Israel and everywhere else.

In the past few months, Jordanians jailed in Syria were freed following a summit of Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Syrian President Bashar Assad. The government also proposed to Iraq to swap prisoners so that Jordanians could spend the rest of their terms in home countries.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Gulf: Budget Surplus Hits New Record, Estimated Doubling

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, AUGUST 12 — The 2008 overall budget surplus of the states members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will rise well above the USD 39 billion forecast at the beginning of the year. The six countries of the oil bloc — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman — will in fact bring in at least double the amount, analysts quoted by economic daily Emirates Business calculated. The 2008 forecasts were computed at an average price of USD 40-50 a barrel, but the price of oil and its by-products has been quoted at an average USD 109 a barrel. Numbers which are putting back on their feet also the accounts of Bahrain and Oman: with an estimated deficit for the current year of some USD 1.1 billion each, they will however close the budgets in a net surplus. Gulf countries are thus repeating the 2007 trend, when a USD 100 billion surplus against the estimated 33 billion entered the coffers of the six oil-rich monarchies. Over the last five years, the cumulative budget of the oil-rich emirates surpassed USD 300 billion allowing them to level public debts, give an impetus to foreign reserves and launch a massive development and economic diversification policy: a boom leading the GCC towards an economic stage increasingly independent from the oil revenues. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Egypt: Remittances Increase During Third Quarter of 2008

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, AUGUST 12 — Money Remittances transacted by Egyptian workers in Saudi Arabia substantially increased during the third quarter of the fiscal year 2007/08 to approximately USD 254 million, from USD 200 million during the preceding quarter. The CBE further stated that remittances arriving from the UAE during the same period marked USD 326 million, Qatar USD 34 million, Bahrain USD 23 million and Oman USD 7 million. From outside the Middle East, Egypt received remittances during the quarter from the US amounting to USD 642 million and Germany USD 52 million. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Women: Arab World; Fair Treatment on Workplace, Study

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, AUGUST 14 — In the Middle East, three out of five women are not feeling sexually discriminated on the workplace. This is the data emerging from the latest study by Bayt.com, carried out in cooperation with the researchers of YouGovSiraj and conducted in 13 countries of the region. The data, however, becomes less comforting when it is calculated on the estimates of the Gulf countries, where 49% of employed women believe that men have a head start in their professional growth. Disparities in the salary with equal qualifications is the data regretted by 46% of the interviewed women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) area, even if the reality of the situations varies a lot, depending on the profession. A total 81% confirmed the total absence of support structures for working women with children.”Improvements were registered in the past few years, however the road ahead is still very long”, YouGovSiraj’s manager commented. The survey, which was conducted in six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman — and in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, also highlighted another data: while the majority of European women choose to work to guarantee themselves economic independence, the Middle Eastern women look for personal realisation in the profession. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Saudi Arabia: Therapy for Terrorist Turned in by Families

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, AUGUST 14 — Post-terrorist activity rehabilitation: this is what the Saudi authorities are guaranteeing to a number of citizens who have yielded to the “deviant” call to Jihad, the holy war which the Muslims are called to fight in case of oppression. The news was reported by Arab News daily, commenting on five recent cases announced by the Interior Ministry. Apart from the story of Rabigh, who turned himself in at the authorities when his strong feelings against “the infidels” started to take up violent connotations, the newspaper narrates also the story of a father who reported his two sons who left for the Jihad to unspecified “turbulent areas” in the region, helping for their arrest at the airport of a neighbouring country. The same fate befell another father and another son, who disappeared at 16, with the difference, according to the details provided by the police, that the young man, after having planned a suicide attack, but backed off causing the anger of the members of his cell, who had physically and psychologically abused him. Rehabilitation started also for a fifth man, who had also left for Jihad, reported by his wife and convinced to return home also thanks to the intervention of a religious person. The published cases stress on a phenomenon which seems growing in the oil-rich kingdom: growing awareness towards the dictates of a deviant Islam and the involvement of the families in limiting the whereabouts of their loved ones. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Saudi Girl Drinks Bleach to Escape Marriage

A 16-year-old Saudi girl drank a bottle of bleach in an attempt to commit suicide to escape a forced marriage to a 75-year-old man, press reports revealed Sunday.

The girl identified only as, Shaikha, said her father was forcing her to marry the old man so that he could marry his 13-year-old daughter in an exchange deal, Bahrain’s Tribune reported.

Shaikha described how her father took her to meet the old man and his 13-year-old in a marriage office where they all had pre-marital tests done, the Tribune quoted the Saudi Gazette as reporting.

Shaikha told the paper how she begged and pleaded not to be forced into marriage but both of the men ignored her pleas.

The 16-year-old appealed to the National Society of Human Rights to intervene and stop the marriage saying she never consented to it, the Tribune said, adding Shaikha also begged to go live with her mother.

Shaikha’s mother said she should be protected from her father and demanded the marriage contract be cancelled because Shaikha was threatened to marry the man, the paper said.

“Judges can punish men who force their daughters to marry like this,” Sheikh Abdul Mohsin Al Obeikan, Shura Council member and adviser to the Minister of Justice said, adding the marriage contract was void because it violated Shariah law, the Tribune reported.

Shaikha’s case is under investigation.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Indonesia: Wham! Bam! Islam!

Muslim superheroes come to Jakarta

Editor’s note: Last season, FRONTLINE/World ran a story from the Middle East that introduced viewers to the fastest selling comic book in the Arab world, The 99. The comic features characters with super powers based on the concept of Allah’s 99 attributes, including wisdom and generosity, as taught in the Koran. Its creator, Naif al-Mutawa, is a 36-year-old from Kuwait who was educated in the United States and who, as a boy, devoured Marvel comics and the Hardy Boys mysteries.

Reporter Isaac Solotaroff followed al-Mutawa as he marketed his comics throughout the Middle East, hoping to spread a moderate, modern image of Islam to the world. In this update, Solotaroff catches up with al-Mutawa in Jakarta, Indonesia, where the comic creator is trying to sell his work to the largest Islamic country in the world, a country that accounts for one in six of all Muslims worldwide.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Turkey: Life Sentence Request for Pippa Bacca’s Killer

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, AUGUST 18 — A Turkish public prosecutor sought life sentence for the suspected murderer of Italian artist Pippa Bacca, Turkish news agencies report. The prosecutor sought life sentence without contradictory against Murat Karatas arrested on charges of killing Bacca, in the indictment that he submitted to the court, the agencies wrote. Italian artist Giuseppina Pasqualino Di Marineo, also known as Pippa Bacca, departed from the Italian city of Milan together with Silvia Moro, an artist’s friend, on March 8. The two artists were hitchhiking to the Israeli city of Tel Aviv with the aim of sending a “peace message” to the world. Pasqualino and Moro separated from each other in Istanbul on March 19. After March 31 no contact could be established with Pasqualino. The 33 years old artist was found dead in a forest near the town of Gebze in the North Western province of Kocaeli on April 12. The 38 years old suspect in the murder, Karatas, was arrested few days later. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UAE-Iran: Islands, Arab League Backs UAE Against Tehran

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, AUGUST 18 — The Arab League expressed “serious concern” as regards Iran’s intention to build two naval offices on Abu Musa Island, which is disputed, together with Greater and Lesser Tunb, by Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), emirate daily The National reported, specifying that Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa urged Tehran “not to adopt unilateral measures”. The three islands were occupied by Iran in 1971 but Abu Dhabi has always claimed sovereignty over them and has repeatedly pressed for international arbitration to settle the issue. The three islands, slightly less than 25 sq km, semi-desert but strategically situated in the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, have gained fundamental significance these weeks: the tone between the Iranian government and Gulf monarchies overheated and Iran threatened the international community — which intends to impose sanctions against its nuclear programme — to close the passage through which some 40% of the world’s crude oil travels. Slightly earlier than a week ago, the Iranian television announced the construction of a centre for maritime rescue and a registration office for merchant ships and seamen on the largest of the three islands. The UAE immediately protested through the Iranian diplomatic mission in Abu Dhabi echoed now by the call of the Arab League. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


New Al Qaida Cell Discovered

A new Al Qaida cell with terror plans was discovered in Mukalla, Hadhramout [Yemen] only three days after five Al Qaida operatives were killed and two others injured and arrested in neighbouring Tareem, officials said on Friday.

One member of the new cell was arrested and most of the others were identified after raiding the place where the group was hiding in Al Dawajen area nearby Fawha in Mukalla city, east of Yemen, said the governor of Hadhramout, Salem Al Khambashi.

“The members of the cell, which was planning to carry out terrorist acts inside and outside the province, were identified and full information about each one of them was collected, and security men are doing their best now to arrest them,” said Al Khambashi.

In the hideout of the group, security men found a quantity of weapons, ammunition, explosives, mines, hand grenades, and women’s clothes to be used as a disguise, the official said.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Row Hots Up After Bahrain Denies Trip to Israeli Mission

An anti-Zionist group has challenged the education ministry to take legal action against an Israeli newspaper for publishing an allegedly unfounded report claiming that Bahraini students had visited the Israeli embassy in Washington.

“The ministry is saying that, contrary to the ynetnews report, no Bahraini student has ever set foot in the Zionist embassy in Washington.

It should now sue the newspaper for the sake of the ministry and the Bahraini people who stand staunchly against any form of normalisation with the Zionists,” Abdullah Abdul Malek, the secretary general of the Bahraini Society fro Resisting Normalisation with the Zionist Enemy, said on Sunday.

“Should the ministry take legal action against the newspaper, it will have the full support of all the people and institutions in Bahrain,” he said.

A group of Bahraini students and other Arab nationals visited the Israeli Embassy in Washington last week as part of a young international leadership training programme sponsored by the US government.

According to ynetnews, Rafi Harpaz, the head of public relations at the Israeli embassy, the visit was “a unique opportunity to explain Israel’s position first hand.”

“When the briefing was over, the Arab students, all from affluent homes, shook Harpaz’ hand and asked to take photos with him, telling the director it was their first time meeting an Israeli…

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Caucasus

US Yet to Ask Turkey to Let Hospital Ships Through

Washington has made no formal request of Ankara to allow two U.S. hospital ships to sail through the Turkish straits to Georgia, a U.S. diplomat said Saturday, following reports that Turkey was dragging its feet on making a decision.

“The United States is considering a lot of actions” to help Georgia amid its conflict with Russia over South Ossetia, Kathy Schallow, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, told Agence France-Presse.

Without a reference to the U.S. ships, the statement said the transportation of assistance by sea was regulated under the terms of the 1936 Montreux Convention, which governs international traffic through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits.

Private NTV news channel reported that the two ships’ tonnage exceeded the limits set by the convention. General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday that Washington’s plans called for sending two U.S. Navy hospital ships to Georgia, among other assistance.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Far East

Japan, Refutation of Neoliberalism

No-one wants to talk about Japan these days. The conventional wisdom is that the bloom went off Japan’s economic rose around 1990 and that the utter superiority of neoliberal capitalism was vindicated by the strong performance of the American economy during the 1990s. Furthermore, everyone is now convinced that China — whose economy is 1/8 the size of Japan’s — is the rising economic power and therefore the appropriate object of attention.

But Japan is, despite everything, still one of the master keys to understanding the future of the world economy, because Japan is the clearest case study of why neoliberalism is false. Simply put, Japan has done almost everything wrong by neoliberal standards and yet is indisputably the second-richest nation in the world.

This doesn’t mean that neoliberalism is wholly meritless as an economic theory or as a development strategy, but it does mean that its claim to be the only path to prosperity has been empirically falsified. Japan’s economy is highly regulated, centrally-planned by the state, and often contemptuous of free markets. But it has thrived.

What follows is for space reasons necessarily a sketch and exceptions, subtleties, and refinements have been left out. Facts have been homogenized and caricatured to make structural fundamentals clear. But a reader who bears this in mind will not be misled, as detail analyses are available elsewhere…

           — Hat tip: LN[Return to headlines]


Muslim Rebels Kill 28 in Bloody Philippines Attack

Muslim separatist rebels have killed at least 28 civilians and three soldiers in a series of pre-dawn attacks in the restive southern Philippines, witnesses and officials say.

Some of the civilians were hacked to death by machetes and there were reports that some were used as human shields during the violent rampage.

President Gloria Arroyo branded the attacks by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerrillas as “sneaky and treacherous” and in clear violation of peace negotiations, and ordered the army to “defend every inch” of soil.

Reporters say they saw nine bodies lying bloodied by a roadside in one village in Kauswagan town as black smoke billowed from burning houses.

Five other civilians were killed in another village by the marauding MILF fighters, while six more bodies were found, also in Kauswagan, later on Monday (local time).

All 20 bodies were taken by troops to two mortuaries in Iligan city a few kilometres away.

In the town of Kolambugan, six civilians and three soldiers were killed, Mayor Beltran Lumaque said in a radio interview.

Among those killed was Colonel Angelo Benitez, an army brigade commander whose troops had engaged the rebels in intense gun battles since dawn.

Another rebel unit struck the town of Maasim, leaving two civilians dead as they ransacked a pawn shop and looted a drug store, said the military.

The near-simultaneous assaults by hundreds of MILF rebels were in towns in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and Sarangani, all on the island of Mindanao.

           — Hat tip: Fausta[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Satan Loves the Olympics

NOTHING makes Satan happier than the Beijing “bikini” Olympics says Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid. In an interview aired on Al-Majd TV on August 10 and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, the unhappy cleric slammed the Olympic Games — past and present — for its debauched display of women’s bodies. “The world’s worst display of women’s clothing is the women’s Olympics,” he said. “No exposure of women’s private parts on a global scale could make Satan happier than Olympic games that include women’s sports.”

“What women wear in the Olympic games are among the worst clothes possible. The inventions of Satan, with regard to the exposure of the body in gymnastics, in swimming, in whatever, in tennis… Women have never got naked for sports like they do in the Olympics. It is aired to billions of people worldwide. The problem is not just with the spectators who are present. The whole thing is aired on TV…”

As the Wall Street Journal’s Olympics blog pointed out, with record numbers of women competing in Beijing, Satan must be one very happy man. Forty two per cent of the 11,000 athletes competing

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Italy: Illegal Immigrants Land Off Coast

Lampedusa, 18 August (AKI) — Sixty-six illegal immigrants were rescued off the southern coast of Italy on Monday.

The would-be migrants were spotted 50 nautical miles southeast of the small Italian island of Lampedusa off the Sicilian coast.

They called for aid using a satellite phone and were rescued by Italian coast guard authorities.

Twenty-two women and a child were among the immigrants who are believed to have travelled from North Africa.They were all expected to be transferred to the island’s temporary reception centre.

More than 15,000 would-be migrants are believed to have landed in southern Italy in 320 landings since the beginning of January 2008.

Italy has the European Union’s longest coastline — 4,500 kilometres — making it difficult to police and thus a preferred destination for migrants.

It recently approved a controversial new law targeting illegal immigrants with harsher penalties and swifter deportation procedures.

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged Christians to fight intolerance against foreigners and criticised the government moves to crackdown on illegal immigrants.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

General

A Festival of Groveling to Terrorists

If works of art are withdrawn because of fear of reprisal, we lose the chance for open debate

Have you heard about the first novel by a young American woman that has become the “new Satanic Verses”, sparking terrorist attacks on the publishers and riots by Islamic militants that make the protests against Salman Rushdie’s book look like an English tea party?

No, you probably won’t have, since there is no book for anybody to riot about. The US publishers Random House pulled The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones, due out today, on the ground that it “might be offensive to some in the Muslim community” and “could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment”. An executive told the author that they had stopped her racy historical novel about Aisha, young wife of the Prophet Muhammad, out of “fear of a possible terrorist threat from extremist Muslims” and concern for “the safety and security of the Random House building and employees”.

There had been no acts of violence or terrorism, nor even threats or protests. All that happened was that one non-Muslim associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas, who was sent a proof copy, apparently cautioned that the book would be seen as “a declaration of war… explosive stuff… a national security issue” and more offensive than The Satanic Verses. There swiftly followed a riot of retreating publishers, and the book was blown out before anybody had the chance to set light to it for the cameras.

It looks like another example of a quiet wave of self-censorship and cultural cowardice sweeping Western art circles. Two years ago, when the Deutsche opera in Berlin scrapped a production of Mozart’s Idomeneo for fear that it might offend some Muslims, I described it as “pre-emptive grovelling”. This now appears to be the modus operandi of the transatlantic arts elites…

           — Hat tip: ACT for America[Return to headlines]

9 comments:

CzC said...

What now islam is inteffering with books even being published? How soon until the Bible is offensive.

My library has all of Salmon Rashdies books except the Satanic Verses.

no2liberals said...

And then there is this!
Coca-Cola Celebrates Ramadan In 2008.
/make mine Pepsi, please

Zenster said...

Baron, the GoV News Feed is shaping up very nicely.

Natalie said...

I agree, Zenster...

talnik said...

Me too with Nat & Jen. But it's gotta be time consuming.

talnik said...

Zen not Jen. Sorry. Late. Work fast.

Darrin said...

Australia: Muslims lay seige to Sydney hospital after fatal shooting... http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=617388

Watch the vid, see how they run from the police dogs....

Baron Bodissey said...

Talnik --

Actually, it doesn't take much time. It's almost completely automated. I clip and paste into a form and click a button, then the software does the rest.

For example, I just opened Darrin's link, clipped some text with the title & URL, and made a news feed entry of it for tonight. The program code does a keyword search and finds the category, although it doesn't get it right every time, and I have to change it manually. It knows the reading habits of TB, Insubria, etc., and so it even suggests the tipster for me.

I tweak the code a little every day or two to make it even less time-consuming, and to improve the format. It takes less of my time than you would think.

Zenster said...

talnik: Zen not Jen. Sorry. Late. Work fast.

Meh, I've been called worse.

Natalie, I hope your academic wanderings serve you well.